The 14th annual National HIV Testing Day is June 27. People who are
engaging in behaviors that place them at risk for HIV infection are
encouraged to be tested for HIV.
"We encourage anyone who has had a risk for exposure to HIV to get tested, get educated and get treatment this National HIV/AIDS Testing Day," said L. William Lyons, director of the HIV/AIDS program at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE). "HIV testing is widely available at county health departments, community-based organizations and private providers."
According to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
estimates, more than 1 million Americans are infected with HIV, and one
quarter of these individuals are not aware of it. Anyone who is not aware of their HIV status could be unknowingly spreading HIV infection to others.
The CDC states that the communities that are at increased risk of HIV
infection include African American and Latino populations, both of which are disproportionately affected with HIV when compared to other demographic groups in the United States. In 2006, it was estimated that about half (49 percent) of the people who are diagnosed with HIV/AIDS were African American, according to information from 33 states.
As of December 31, 2007, there are 2,821 cumulative AIDS cases reported in Kansas since 1982, along with 1,113 cumulative HIV cases reported since HIV reporting began in 1999.
In 2007, a total of 223 HIV/AIDS cases were reported in Kansas. Of the 223 cases, 29 percent were African Americans and 14 percent were Hispanics.
If tested positive for HIV, one must take steps to prevent transmitting HIV infection to another person. While there is no cure for HIV, new drugs are available that can help people stay healthy and decrease the amount of HIV in the body.
KDHE and CDC recommend the following steps to help stop the spread of HIV:
· Be safe. The best way to prevent HIV is to abstain from having sex.
If you do have sex, use a new latex condom every time. Do not share needles or syringes.
· Talk about it. Talk about sex and HIV with your partners. Find out
when they were last tested for HIV and what their status was. Be clear that you will be having safer sex or none at all.
· Talk to your doctor. If you are sexually active, you should be tested
for HIV at least once. Do not assume your doctor will ask you to be tested for HIV.
· Spread the word. Thousands of Americans are acquiring HIV each year. Set an example by getting tested and spreading the word that others should do the same.
The Sedgwick County Health Department will offer free HIV testing from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, June 27.
If you are at increased risk for getting HIV and want to get tested,
contact your local health department or call the KDHE HIV/STD Section at 785-296-6174. HIV testing information is available on the KDHE Web site at www.kdheks.gov/hiv/index.html.